In this guest post, work experience student, Dan, talks about choosing what you want to do after leaving school and some of the options you might by interested in:
At the age of 17 it is tricky to know where to go once you’ve finished your A-Levels. It becomes increasingly difficult when your teachers are asking you to fill out applications for the next few stages of your life when you might be sitting there not really knowing what career you might like. However, this is a process, one in which you work your way through it at your own pace and where you must realise that exciting times are ahead, not scary times.
I am a year 12 student currently studying 3 A-Levels at Sixth Form, Business, Geography and English and I, like many others, have reached the point where I must start coming up with ideas about where I am going to go after I have sat my exams. Do I go off to university? Do I take a gap year? Or do I find an apprenticeship? Essentially, those are the options people like me must consider. But the important thing, that I think is vital, is that these options can be done at any point within your life. So, the ultimate decision is deciding when the right time is.
Life as a Student
Students who are the same age as me know very little about what the University life is like, and that would be fair considering we have never been! I hear about the ‘Uni life’ being extremely exciting and the people you meet along the way staying with you for long periods of time. The independence you gain should provide you with the skills needed in the workplace and for life in general. For me, asking myself “what will I gain” is as important as who will I meet? What will I learn? And how will I improve?
There is a lot to think about when you don’t know where to go or what to study and even though going to university sounds like an amazing life experience, having a very vague idea about my future encourages me to think that maybe it isn’t right for me just yet. Perhaps you have thought about the expenses of being away from home like I have. Unfortunately, especially under the pressure of A-Levels, I think sometimes students like me feel that there is an expectation to know exactly what to do, and sometimes I find myself being very jealous of those individuals who have their whole life planned out. But it is ok to just apply for things you might want to do after having some time to think.
Exploring “The Gap Year”
I think a gap year can go one of two ways: Successfully or Unsuccessfully. I have thought about doing a gap year and currently I think it is probably the best option for me, not because I want to sit at home doing nothing (an unsuccessful gap year) but because I would love to go somewhere, travelling, meeting different people and picking up new skills (a successful gap year).
I think a gap year is important to consider for those who are struggling to decipher their career choices. A successful year will enable someone like me to experience something that perhaps I’ll never experience again and will allow me to stand out from others when applying to places in the future. I have been looking into programmes like RestartAfrica which is a programme with one belief: “Our belief that given the love and opportunity that Restart Africa provides, our children will all have wonderful futures ahead” I have also looked into Camp America, a more student based programme, where you can go to America for a few months with very similar people.
The Apprentice 👉
An apprenticeship, for me, is a difficult option to think about. Despite being able to learn new skills and be in a working environment, whilst being paid, I do feel like going to get an apprenticeship is like a path you take towards your chosen career. For someone who does not know what to do next an apprenticeship is at the bottom of my choices, but it is still something you could investigate for the future and take your interests into consideration.
- Don’t panic, you will get something sorted for your next stages
- Understand your interests and your strengths
- Apply for things you might want to do, you can always say no
- Consider deferring, if you apply to a university but want to do something else, the likelihood of them accepting your choice to keep the offer in the safe is high.
Best of luck!